PSR Revisited

by Randy Everist

I have returned from a brief hiatus from blogging. Work, school, the holidays, and life in general have been calling. I am glad to be back!

The other day at work a colleague expressed some frustration with an issue she had been dealing with. She received an e-mail asking her if there was a “particular reason” she had done something. Exasperated, she said something like “Of course there is. I mean, there’s a particular reason for everything.” I found this extremely interesting because she is a self-described atheist. Not only that, she has a very strong educational background in philosophy.

This got me thinking that it sounded awfully like the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). Interestingly, in everyday conversations in which we do not know there to be theistic implications we tend to grant, almost as a prima facie truth, the PSR. This is what has led Alex Pruss to label the PSR as “self-evident” to anyone who understands it.[1] Further, he contends a major reason for denying it is in the case of “fear that acceptance of the PSR will force one to accept various theological conclusions.”[2] Surely, one must have a better reason to reject the PSR than his or her desire to avoid God.

This also allowed me to consider the question: “what is the reason that everything has a reason?” In her statement, my co-worker intended something like “for every state of affairs X there exists some reason or state of affairs explaining X.” She thought it to be plainly false that there are events or things that are simply inexplicable. So what could be the reason or state of affairs which explains the state of affairs of everything having a state of affairs which explains it?

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Possible Worlds: PSR Revisited

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